Help Yourself With Recovery
The first few months getting sober can be the most challenging. Old habits are gone and not yet replaced by new ones. Furthermore, there are physical and psychological triggers that are still fresh and easily activated. It takes over a month to develop habits that have the potential to stick. A good place to start is getting on the road to better physical health. Optimizing your physical self in this time will give you some of the greatest chances of success. If you are not on track to making your physical self healthy, it will be hard for your brain to operate optimally. Key areas to getting your body back on track are nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise.
Eating right can help you feel more energized and ready to be active. It is important to get back to three regular meals with a healthy snack or two in there. A simple goal to follow is the less processed a food is the better. This is even true for meat, where a basic cut is healthier than processed meats with additives. Whole grains, fresh fruit, and raw or steamed veggies should be the cornerstone of each meal. These are rich in nutrients and fiber and the natural sources are best.
To supplement, not replace, a healthy diet, adding vitamins for the first few months may be a good idea. Key vitamins and minerals are often depleted during an addiction and supplementation may be the best way to normalize levels. There are a host of vitamin options available. USANA is one of the highest rated brands on the market. Their multivitamin products were reviewed by an independent research group and determined to be the best among 1200 similar products in North America. I would recommend the Essentials Pack. One may also consider addition of one of their antioxidant products like Hepasil DTX which will boost healthy organ function
Hydration is vital to the detoxification process. Your body will go through the primary phase of detox in the first few days and drop off from there. This will continue for a month or more. Water (not coffee, soda, or energy drinks) is key. Water is the basic ingredient in many of the enzyme processes in the body engaged in detox and rebuilding tissue. It is also a critical piece of our waste management system. To get the toxins out of your body as quickly as possible, drink about 80 to 100 ounces of water daily, throughout the day.
While you are eating right and drinking plenty of water, focus on improving sleep. Going through a detox process almost invariably disrupts sleep. Sleep may also have been poorly neglected during an addiction. It can take six to eight weeks to get this back on track. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Create good habits around this. Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time. Keep the room dark and don’t engage in unnecessary wakeful activities in bed. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and get exercise during the day.
Exercise is another key element to getting back your health. Getting an exercise routine with regular frequency is more important than the quantity and intensity of the activity. The latter two will come if you keep up the frequency. I used to tell people moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Current research, however, has espoused the benefits of walking. Walking daily for about 15-20 minutes, about five miles a week, can be very effective for brain health. This is not just walking at the grocery store or mall but non-directed walking, preferably in a natural setting. Alternatives to this can be yoga, swimming, or riding a bicycle. Finding activity that is enjoyable is key to keeping up the habit.
Deciding to become sober is an honorable and challenging task. In the first few months, it is important to have a strong support network and focus on improving physical health. This will help give your brain the best possible environment to heal. Good nutrition, plenty of water, mild to moderate exercise, and healthy sleep are all important components.
Congratulations on this journey. Being honest to yourself with a daily commitment, you can and will succeed.